Rabbanim, Roshei Yeshivos, Dayanim and municipal officials of Bnei Brak convened for an emergency meeting on Wednesday night in the wake of the alarming rise of coronavirus cases in the city, with the number of new cases doubling in the past week.
Hagaon Harav Shimon Badani opened the meeting by crying bitterly over the severity of the situation. “A parent came to me and said that his son’s yeshivah told him he could sit in the shiur without a mask. I told him clearly: ‘You’re obligated to take your son out of yeshivah! It’s a zilzul of dinei nafashos and there’s no heter for it!’ I heard about a Jew, a yirei Shamayim who served as a sandak without wearing a mask. Who can matir something like this? Who can be meikel in dinei nefashos? It’s d’oreoiysa! He’s not scared? But the Torah Hakedosha is scared!”
Rosh Yeshivas Orchos Torah HaRav Baruch Dov Diskind said: “People need to know that whoever walks around with a mask is taking achraiyus for the whole olam H’Torah. We’re reaching a situation, chas v’shalom, of needing to close all the mosdos hTorah and shuls!”
Other rabbanim spoke as well followed by Dr. Meshulam Hart, who explained that the effects of the coronavirus, which lingers in the body and can cause complex long-term damage, obligates the public to be extremely careful to adhere to regulations.
IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Roni Numa, who has volunteered to assist the city, then presented the data on the infection rate in the city, including an in-depth look at the sources of infection, how the infection spread and the virus hotspots in the city, also addressing the issue of the rapid rate of infection in particularly crowded parts of the city and in mosdos haTorah, shuls, bataei midrashim and wedding halls.
Numa said that the densely populated nature of the city, believed to be the most crowded in Israel, is believed to be the primary factor in the high infection rate, adding that there’s an average of 150 children in each building in the city.
Following the speakers and the subsequent discussion, the Rabbanim signed a list of public instructions which will be issued to residents, including a directive that minyanim in all shuls, batei midrashim and heichalei ha’Torah can have only up to 40 mispalleim on weekday and Shabbos; all minyanim must strictly adhere to health ministry regulations; and anyone not wearing a mask should not be included in a minyan.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)